Internet search engines allow access to online information from all over the world. However, there is currently a general assumption that users are fluent in the languages of all documents that they might search for. This has for historical reasons usually been a choice between English and the locally supported language. Given the rapidly growing size of the Internet, it is likely that future users will need to access information in languages in which they are not fluent or have no knowledge of at all. This paper shows how information retrieval and machine translation can be combined in a cross-language information access framework to help overcome the language barrier. We present encouraging preliminary experimental results using English queries to retrieve documents from the standard Japanese language BMIR-J2 retrieval test collection. We outline the scope and purpose of cross-language information access and provide an example application to suggest that technology already exists to provide effective and potentially useful applications.
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